Current Issue

News  |  March 10, 2020

January UNCITRAL session considers appellate mechanism, standing court, and arbitrator and adjudicator issues

Negotiators working on multilateral reform solutions to ISDS reconvened in Vienna in January 2020 to resume their 38th session, holding talks around the possibility of an appellate mechanism, the benefits and challenges of setting up a permanent court on investment issues, and the process around choosing arbitrators and adjudicators.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Investment facilitation talks set sights on WTO MC12 outcome, prepare for negotiations

Los 99 miembros de la OMC participantes de los debates estructurados sobre un posible marco multilateral para la facilitación de las inversiones están preparándose para pasar al modo negociación desde marzo del 2020 en adelante, en un intento por anunciar un “resultado concreto” en la 12ª Conferencia Ministerial de la OMC a realizarse en Nur-Sultan, Kazakstán, en junio de 2020.

News  |  March 10, 2020

ECT modernization: Conference meets in December 2019, sets stage for 2020 negotiating meetings

The negotiations for ECT modernization are now underway, with the first such meetings held in December 2019 and at least four other sessions planned over 2020.

News  |  March 10, 2020

China–EU investment talks: Negotiators debate new market access offers, eyeing 2020 outcome

The talks between China and the EU for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment saw an important milestone in December 2019, as the two sides exchanged new market access offers. They had exchanged market access offers once previously, in July 2018.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Trump signs USMCA, bringing NAFTA’s replacement closer to entry into force

The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) has been ratified and signed into law in the United States, bringing the trade and investment deal one step closer to entry into force. Of the three countries involved, the only one that has not completed its ratification processes is Canada.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Brexit: United Kingdom leaves EU amid questions on future trade, investment relationships

The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU formally took place on January 31, 2020, following years of talks and repeated extensions in the Brexit deadline. With the United Kingdom now in an 11-month transition period, questions remain over the shape of the country’s future trade and investment relationship with the EU and other partners, though some further indications of what this may entail are beginning to emerge.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Australia trade deals with Hong Kong, Peru enter into force, Indonesia agreement ratified

El nuevo año es testigo de la entrada en vigor de dos nuevos acuerdos comerciales que involucran a Australia; a saber, Perú y Hong Kong. Ambos acuerdos contienen capítulos de inversión y fueron ratificados por la legislatura australiana a fines de diciembre, junto con otro acuerdo que involucra a Indonesia.

News  |  March 10, 2020

EU parliamentarians endorse Vietnam trade, investment deals

El Parlamento Europeo ha dado luz verde a los acuerdos de comercio e inversión del bloque de 27 naciones con Vietnam, luego de siete años de iniciadas las negociaciones formales.

News  |  March 10, 2020

Coalition of civil society groups, trade unions caution against MIC option at UNCITRAL

A group of 20 civil society organizations and trade unions from the African continent have circulated a letter questioning the EU’s multilateral investment court (MIC) proposal in the context of the UNCITRAL Working Group III talks on multilateral ISDS reform and urging for a set of alternative proposals to advance instead.

In a new ICSID award, Spain’s reforms of the renewable energy sector are found not to violate the ECT

Stadtwerke München GmbH, RWE Innogy GmbH, and others v. Kingdom of Spain, ICSID Case No. ARB/15/1

Hungary held liable for expropriating the investment of a British investor and ordered to pay EUR 7 million in compensation for damages

Magyar Farming Company Ltd, Kintyre Kft, and Inicia Zrt v. Hungary, ICSID Case No. ARB/17/27

The BIT is not in force: Mozambique prevails on jurisdiction in case against South African investor

Oded Besserglik v. Mozambique, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/14/2

CMC’s claims dismissed on the merits: While a settlement agreement may be considered an investment under the BIT and the ICSID Convention, Mozambique did not agree to one

CMC Muratori & Cementisti and others v. Republic of Mozambique, ICSID Case No. ARB/17/23

UNCTAD’s 2019 High-level IIA Conference: A new momentum for Phase 2 reform

There are several efforts underway at multiple levels—national, bilateral, regional and multilateral—aimed at reforming the IIA regime. These reform efforts are operating in parallel to developments in other areas of international investment governance, some of which have advanced quickly over the past year, including the structured discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO, as well as efforts in the UN context to craft a binding treaty on business and human rights. This year’s UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference assessed the progress made to date since launching UNCTAD’s 10 Options for Phase 2 of IIA Reform, looking at trends across multiple areas of international investment governance, as well as across world regions. This ITN Insight summarizes the key takeaways from the 2019 event and considerations for Phase 2 going forward.

Business and Human Rights Treaty Negotiation Sees a Light at the End of the Tunnel

The 2016 decision on Argentina’s counterclaim in the Urbaser case provided a frustrating reminder that the international legal regime as it stands is insufficient in holding businesses accountable for human rights violations. Efforts are underway within the UN context to help address this challenge, though how effective the legally binding treaty on business and human rights will be in reconciling the human rights and investment law regimes will depend significantly on its design. It will also depend on how adjudicators treat it relative to other treaties, among other factors. This ITN Insight provides an update on the negotiating state of play for this binding treaty, based on the October 2019 talks in Geneva. It highlights important considerations for negotiators, drawing from lessons learned in international investment law and related areas.

What to Expect in the January 2020 Session of UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform

The upcoming meeting of Working Group III of UNCITRAL in January 2020 will be a valuable opportunity to intensify the push for real reform of ISDS. This ITN Insight provides an update from the October 2019 discussions in Vienna, where countries set out a workplan for their upcoming talks on reform solutions, outlining when to discuss which options. The authors review lessons learned to date and look ahead to the topics slated for discussion in January 2020: a stand-alone review or appellate mechanism; a standing MIC; and the selection and appointment of arbitrators and adjudicators. Taking a deep dive into each, they highlight key issues for negotiators to consider.

Politically Motivated Conduct in Investment Treaty Arbitration

Investment treaty arbitration is often expected to focus on technical issues. In practice, however, domestic political discussions and processes can have a major impact on investment disputes. The authors map out the variety of state conduct characterized by tribunals as politically motivated or influenced. They also examine the different ways in which arbitral tribunals have responded to host state conduct resulting from domestic political considerations.

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

The April 2019 deliberations on multilateral ISDS reform at UNCITRAL Working Group III were due to tackle a series of questions that emerged in Phase 2 of the process. This piece breaks down why the scope of these discussions should be expanded to include important concerns raised by developing countries, and describes three core issues that must not be ignored. These involve the right to participation by affected parties; the rule of law and domestic courts’ jurisdiction; and the chilling of sovereign states’ authority and responsibility to govern.

Enhancing Environmental Protection in International Investment Law Through the Integration of International Civil Liability Principles

Investor–state arbitration has repeatedly proven ineffective in addressing environmental damages that host states suffer as a result of investment activities. This piece examines what lessons can be learned from international civil liability conventions, which are specifically designed to ensure victims’ compensation in cases of environmental harm. The author then explores which principles from these conventions could be adapted for use in investment treaties.

Protecting Social Rights Using the Amicus Curiae Procedure in Investment Arbitration: A smokescreen against third parties?

Arguments submitted by an amicus curiae (a “friend of the court”) have become increasingly common in investment arbitration. Many of these arguments deal with internationally recognized social rights, such as the right to water or food. This piece considers the restrictive conditions on amici curiae admission, the frequent reference to social rights issues in amici briefs, and the challenges in presenting these social rights arguments. The author advances possible actions that amici and states can take to make their social rights arguments more effective in an investment law context.